these steps to help organize your pre-writing into a draft.
[adapted from the St. Martin's
Guide to Writing].
Developing your argument
down every possible reason you can think of to support your position.
You might set it up like this: I
believe X because. . .Review the list with your readers in mind and pick the
strongest ones (three or four).
for about five minutes on each reason--explain the reason and provide
support for it. Take note of
spots where you need to get more info/evidence to support your position.
as complete a list as possible of the arguments others will have against
your position. Include possible
objections to your argument and reasons typically given for the other point
of view. Talk to other people
about this--especially those who hold the other view or another view on the
which objections or counterarguments make sense to you and write for ten
minutes on how you would answer them. If
the criticism doesn’t completely undermine your position you might be able
to just “engulf and devour it,” but some counterarguments may require
more serious refutation.
about those points that you do need to refute and write for ten minutes on
how you should attack it--assumptions, values, reasons, evidence,
for five minutes on your overall argumentative strategy.
How can all the information that you’ve put together work together
for an effective argument?
a thesis paragraph in which you state your position, give the basic reasons
for support, and list the counterarguments.
Tell your readers what you want them to think about the issue and
why. This will be clunky now,
but as you revise, you will refine it.
PLANNING & DRAFTING
See what you have: Review all the pre-writing that you've done. You should have several pages of material.
If it looks skimpy, you should try again.
If you've tried and still can't come up with more information, you should
consult me about your topic. You
might need do come up with a new one.
Consider the following questions to help set
purpose and audience
can I realistically hope to accomplish by addressing these readers?
Am I trying to reinforce their views or change their minds?
values can I draw on to appeal to these readers? What is important to them?
can I get readers attention from the start and involve them in the argument
without putting them on the defensive?
much do I need to explain about the issue at the beginning?
Do I need to focus on the issue's relevance?
I need to define terms or differentiate my view from commonly held views?
should I sequence my reasons? strongest
to weakest? weakest to strongest? most to least predictable? simplest to
complex? Is there a logical, natural sequence?
objections to my argument and which arguments for other points of view
should I mention? Should I
engulf and devour? How can I deal with opposing viewpoints and where should
I do this? at the very
beginning? when they are most likely to occur to a reader? at the very end?
can I effectively conclude? Do
I need to restate my thesis? Should I remind readers of our common values?
Should I suggest a possible plan of action?
an outline for how you want to organize your essay.
Remember, there is no one correct way to organize an essay, but try to
have reasons for why you organize it the way you do.
You'll be able to change the order later if this plan doesn't work out.
your outline and goals, begin drafting your essay. As you write, keep your audience and purpose in mind.
You may need to diverge from your outline as you write--this is okay.
Sometimes your essay will take on a logical life of its own.